Monday, November 17, 2014

I swear we lived

As we were preparing to head to the La Porte By the Bay Half marathon (, Kiana asked what time our flight left and it wasn't until that moment that I realized that for the first time since I started running with a stroller, I was the one driving Kiana to the race and it wasn't a friend or a flight carrying us there. While the fact that this was my 3rd race in three weeks (a marathon, a 10k, and now a half marathon), that awareness made me smile immediately because, while it had come out for training still, it was the first race that we were getting the stroller out for since January.

The races to Kiana and I are always just a part and never entirely the point of the trip. So it was great to join up with my friend Keith and for the first time ever our little girls would meet. We'd meet at the Kemah Boardwalk where while the girls would take in a couple of the rides, they seemed to most enjoy just playing with each other. We'd take in the aquarium where they fed some fish. It was amusing that among all the paid attractions, they'd spend more time than anything hula hooping with someone who was sharing those just on the boardwalk. I tried it for a few seconds okay for less than a few seconds cause apparently I have no dip upon my hip. I don't have those muscles but the girls could keep it going in what seemed an infinity of time. That's the beauty of childhood is that being friends is done easily, you don't have to disarming because well you're already hip with each other. 

When we got our packets, La Porte showed their kindness and how classy they are by making sure Kiana and I both got our own bib, echoing what I've always felt that even if she's in the stroller we're both doing the race. We sat and had some carbs with some of the race staff and when Kiana's ordered arrived, it was the most generous kid's menu I've ever seen. Everyone joked about how it would mean she'd weigh an extra pound in the morning. With this thing already being over 80 lbs, I couldn't have found that joke less funny ;). They asked how I was hoping to do and I said that based on previous results, I'd be proud to come in the top 10.

The legs weren't quite back to 100% but I'd never passed up the opportunity of any race that was kind enough to let Kiana and I take in a new place. Still, as I got up race morning, the race weather which had been predicted cold and rainy was neither. It was certainly cool for spectating but by my running standards the 100% humidity certainly made it feel muggy and warm. Still, I was pumped for our first stroller race in the better part of a year and started listening to some pump up music with One Republic's I lived (

"Until my moment comes, I'll say, 
I owned every second 
that this world could give!
I saw so many places, 
the things that I did! 
And, with every broken heart,
I swear I lived!"

So we headed to the race start and I just kept being impressed by the community. They observed a moment of silence due to a tragedy in the community the day before and bowed with quiet respect to that, to the opening prayer and lifted their heads with grace to the national anthem. The race was off and because it's one that raises money for a charity called Bridge Under Troubled Water that helps victims of domestic violence, Simon and Garfunkel's classic was the song we would start with on our speakers. 

For the first few miles it was questionable with me and a few others which one us was trying to keep up with who but eventually we'd all settle into a good rhythm. Then about mile 5 we'd start to get onto the bridge... the longest bridge I've ever ran with Kiana at just slightly over two and a half miles and apparently the longest of its type in Texas. Keith had said it wasn't too hard or too steep; as I started to climb it behind Kiana, let's just say that my thoughts about my friend weren't all that friendly. 

Kiana saw the yellow cables as we were heading up and asked what they were. Because of the traffic, I made the excuse that she wouldn't be able to hear me on the way up the bridge and I would explain what they did as best as I knew how on the way down because obviously the traffic was lighter on that side where the stroller isn't as heavy. Still, as we were right underneath she told me to look up as she was doing so and we did. And somehow it was one of those moments, that like a good bridge or when you get lucky enough to meet that type of person that helps you both focus and be at ease simultaneously. It probably also helped to know that at that point we were about halfway done. 

This race only had one distance, the 13.1 miles and it was the only half I've ever done that was a complete out and back. So as we would turn around about a half mile after the bridge, I realized that it was the first time in my running career where I would see everyone who was both ahead and behind me in the course. There were about 1600 runners out there and it was the most high fives we've ever given taken. On the way back across the bridge, there were people who got down to high five Kiana, something that had never happened before and she enjoyed it. 

Still I was at about mile 10.5 when the mugginess officially "went away" and it started raining. Continuing the list of firsts, this was the first time it had rained on us while running and Kiana immediately pulled the stroller top as her an umbrella. Despite me asking, she would not trade places so I could stay dry saying my sweat already had me wet. We'd keep gunning it as best as we could till the finish line which we'd take at an hour and twenty five minutes. 

We have an everything's bigger in Texas attitude and the medal to this race was gigantic. Since Kiana had used the stroller when she came out I picked her up with the medal she had just earned to use as my umbrella. I was not quite ready for the weight on the medal on my face :). 

The race had one of the best post race areas I've ever seen with such a variety of food that you could easily compensate for the calories you had just burned off. It started to get colder after the race but the race director had made sure people had made sure that people had the chance to put on a beer jacket on after if so desired. Kiana would eat to her heart's content and once again found her friends and they enjoyed playing, eating and dancing in the rain. 
When the awards ceremony would come, they would be kind enough to say a few words introducing me and mentioning the marathon I won. They asked me to share a few words and I said there, the same thing I had said at the start of the marathon I won. Before realizing something was wrong with my brain, the mistake I'd made  was to not constantly and consciously spend time with people I cared about. I encouraged them to just make sure that the experiences they loved and the people they loved coupled up together as much as possible, to continue to work on the relationships they want to keep. When the award ceremonies came out, we'd come out 10th overall in my 10th half marathon and I'd taken second in my age group. 

Still the adventure wasn't quite done. I'd get to catch up with some people from various cities that I'd done races in and I got to meet new people. Kiana just kept making better friends with Keith's daughter. Before we headed out of town we'd go to a bounce house unlike anything I'd ever seen before and the girls jumped and jumped and jumped for longer than Keith or I had taken on our halfs and still nowhere near out of steam. When that was all done, well Keith's daughter gave Kiana her mailing address.

When we got home there were facebook posts to like and tweets to favorite and an article to read (The Houston Chronicle had shared a great repoter If you want to read the whole article, they were kind enough to make it available  here Still, I'd said to anyone whose ever listened, that sometimes just basic old fashioned human contact is important. So while me and some people my age or older were texting, Kiana got home and hand wrote a note to her first penpal, a girl she'd jumped and talked to on a weekend where her father had gone to just put one foot in front of the other with her in a stroller. 

So between some new first time events and some oft repeated one, I am glad that the little girl I care about most listened and made a friend and has already put something in the mail. But between that and the high fives, the medals, the conversations around the meal we and others were having, I was greatful to have been part of a community that for one weekend, one day, and one half marathon, I swear we lived. 

1 comment:

  1. you, my friend, are an excellent your blog posts...nice that you and Kiana could run this half marathon together...make me want to run...alas, not yet...still use a willow branch walking stick for fear of falling...still have some off kilter moments...and /////I have become to the walking stick...hope to be able to wean myself off using it in next year...sigh...on to more...received your great Christmas card yesterday,,,well done, are an amazing and Kiana have a stupendous day !!!!!